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The Post-Tropical Storm


Usually I am leaving a hurricane zone before the hurricane strikes. This week, I flew into a hurricane zone to await its arrival.

In this case, it was Hurricane Leslie, which ceased to be a hurricane and was only a tropical storm when it hit Newfoundland, where I am working this week. (Cross “Newfoundland” off my non-existent bucket list.) The storm approached its crescendo just as I got to my client for my first day of work. The building was almost empty, and the power went out as I waited for an escort. Finally someone showed up to tell me to go back to my hotel and come back tomorrow.

Fine. Now I have three days to get four days of work done. Terrific. Well, no one can say I didn’t try.

With nothing else to do, I picked my way through the streets of St. John’s, around fallen trees and wildly-swinging telephone lines, making my way out to Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America. You can’t get any closer to Greenland without getting wet. (Cross “easternmost point in North America” off my non-existent bucket list.) I thought, what better place to watch a hurricane tropical storm but from a high promontory over the angry gray Atlantic ocean?

It was beautiful. The wind was ferocious, rocking my vehicle and threatening to slide it across the pavement, even though the brakes were locked down tight. It DID move other vehicles as I watched, especially a pickup truck. I was not the only person with the same desire to witness nature’s ferocity – at least ten other vehicles were there also. I watched two drivers damage their cars by getting out of them, only to have the roaring wind tear the door from their grip and bend it backwards against the front fender, crumpling the door. That happened twice in five minutes. I had to laugh. I stayed in my vehicle, occasionally opening the moonroof and hoisting a camera into the stinging, wind-whipped rain to snap a picture.

The people who had broken their car doors were stumbling around in the parking lot, leaping into the air and letting the wind blow them a meter or two toward the ocean before they came down again. I thought that was lunacy. It would only take an errant gust to blow one of them right over the edge, down into the gigantic rolling swells that smashed against the rocks below. I waited, camera at the ready, but was disappointed.

When it became clear that no one was going to die, I drove back to town. By the time I got there, the sun had come out and the wind had died back a little, but was still roaring. I drove out to Signal Hill, where Gugliermo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio transmission, beamed from Cornwall, England, in 1901. The notorious topography of the steep hill meant the wind was even more ferocious there. I got out of my vehicle without damaging it, but I could only stand the monstrous wind for a few minutes before I had to get back in and leave.

Now that Leslie is on its way to Greenland, it is called a “post-tropical storm.” I have not heard of that before. It seems anticlimactic. It wasn’t as fierce as the storms we have in the jungle, but it seemed to be a big deal for the Newfies here. (I have heard snotty urban Ontarians make jokes about Newfies, indicating that Newfoundland is Canada’s answer to Kentucky. But everyone I have met here is very nice, they have all their teeth, and they seem quite literate.)

I will go back to Cape Spear and Signal Hill later this week and take more pictures, when it’s a bit calmer.

One Comment
  1. 2012-09-17T21:17:51+00:00 21:17

    Well then I guess it wasn’t a jungle storm. This is what I get for reading posts in the wrong order.


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